Monday 13 July 2020

JFSA reach £98,000 crowdfunding target for parliamentary complaint

The Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance has reached the £98,000 crowdfunding target it wants to raise a complaint about the government to the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

In a message to supporters Alan Bates, founder of the JFSA said:
"On behalf of the group, many of whom have contributed to this fundraising, thank you for supporting us. It means we can now go on to expose those who were so determined to bury what happened in a whitewashed 'review'. 
The Common Issues and Horizon Issues trials in the High Court last year exposed revelation after revelation of the incompetence and mismanagement by Post Office which devastated hundreds of lives, and even now, there is evidence that this may well run into the thousands.  
They tried to cover it up year after year and they could never have done this without the support and collusion of government. 
Your support has enabled us to go on to expose the maladministration by the government departments charged with the oversight and management of Post Office. 
Once again, thank you... and don't forget to hold on to your payment receipts to recover your pledges when we've recovered the costs we are seeking - details will be on the website at that time."
Bates launched the action back in June. Although a complaint to the parliamentary ombudsman is free Bates told JFSA members:
"the reason we will be incurring costs is for preparing the submission to the Ombudsman to ensure our documents focus on our strongest points in our claim of maladministration by BEIS, and in order to do that, we need to use a QC experienced in such matters.  But the costs involved are nowhere near the cost or time involved of bringing another civil litigation action against Post Office’s shareholder. 
I am sure you will agree that during the civil action the Post Office threw everything it could at us, including four legal teams, the Court of Appeal and trying to sack the judge.  Be absolutely certain that the Government will try every trick in the book to have our submission dismissed.  We will only have one chance of following this route and we need experienced legal representation."
As someone who has been delighted to raise nearly £20,000 in crowdfunding over the course of two years of covering this story, I thought the £98,000 target was ambitious.

Given what he has achieved against incredible odds over the years, I should not have underestimated Alan Bates. It's a huge sum of money, and he's done it. Again.
Alan Bates

I do wonder to what extent this will set a cat amongst the pigeons and whether or not this will get taken up by my colleagues on the Westminster beat, but whatever media coverage it attracts, it certainly puts the government on notice.

The JFSA now has leverage inside the political machine. The government (and civil service/UKGI sorts who want the Post Office scandal to "go away") will have to find a way of responding to a high profile complaint to the parliamentary ombudsman.

They know that whatever they do, campaigning MPs and journalists will be watching.

Game on.


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